Our history


Medway Maritime Hospital was originally a Royal Naval Hospital, opened by King Edward VII in 1905. The hospital cost £800,000 and boasted a main corridor of nearly 1000 feet in length.

The hospital clock tower, which is a local landmark, cost £100 and was built from funds left over from the plastering budget for the main hospital building. Until 1950, Royal Marines police guarded the entrance to the hospital and visitors and tradesmen had to show a pass in order to gain access.

In 1961 the NHS acquired the hospital from the Navy. Buildings and facilities were modernised as part of a £1.5m modernisation scheme and the hospital reopened again as Medway Hospital in 1965.

Significant work that followed includes:

  • the creation of a new orthopaedic block and accident and emergency centre in 1970
  • a new extension for elderly and mental health services (A Block) in 1990
  • a new £60 million development which saw the hospital double in size in 1999 when services provided at neighbouring hospitals in Rochester (St Bartholomew's) and Chatham (All Saints') were brought under the umbrella of Medway Hospital
  • the hospital changed its name in 1999 to mark the start of a new era. The new name 'Medway Maritime Hospital' reflects the hospital's proud naval tradition.

One of our Governors, Vivien Bouttell, has pieced together the history of the site, up until it was handed to the NHS in 1961 and this has now been published as a booklet. Take a look at The making of Medway Maritime Hospital: A short history of the hospital - the early days for more information about our fascinating history. 

Historical images